I had my first generation Apple TV for 4 years now since 2007. The time has come for an upgrade, luckily I was given the new second gen. Apple TV for my birthday.
It is a huge improvement over the original in both hardware and software. First of all it’s tiny compared to the original, saving space and packaging. Thanks to the A4 processor Apple TV now consumes only less then 2.5W when streaming HD video, it’s 25 times less then conventional 60W lightbulb. In the sleep mode it only consumes 0.8W. Original x86-based Apple TV was rather power-hungry, getting really hot all the time even in the sleep mode. I had to unplug it from the socket most of the time, but that was hardly convenient. It really shows how efficient ARM processors really are. Power consumption is quite important for me as I’m always trying to cut back where I can.
The biggest new feature of the new Apple TV is of course AirPlay. It let’s you stream most of media content from iPhone or iPad to your TV, be it photos, music or videos. There is no settings or configuration required. It’s just magically works like all things from Apple. You tap on the AirPlay button , select Apple TV and that’s it, your content is on the big screen. It’s amazing!
Another nifty feature is that Apple TV pulls photos from my Instagram set on Flickr and displays them as a screensaver. This was possible on the 1st gen. Apple TV as well, but is very neat nonetheless. I love when my IG photos start flying across my TV screen.
As rumoured today Apple replaced traditional paper price tags with iPads. I went to my local Apple Store in Brighton to check it out. I was lucky that the store wasn’t too busy so I was able to take a few pictures.
The iPads are incased in solid blocks of transparent plastic. You can check specs, compare different models or price plans if it’s an iPhone or an iPad. Also you can see support plans and other information. Interacting with such screen feels like an obvious and organic thing to do and you don’t get a feel as if it’s a cool tech demo but not really practical. There is a wealth of useful information to explore, it’s so much better then the old paper tags/signs.
Killer feature of course is ability to call Specialist right from the device. In the past I could spend a very long time in the busy Apple Store trying to get help, but it looks like it’s going to be a thing of the past now. Retail stuff were excited about new displays too and a very kind Specialist showed me how the feature works. When you call for assistance ‘Specialist’ button changes to ‘You are in the queue.’ and ‘Let’s meet here.’ with text animation similar to slide to unlock on iOS lock screen. Specialists can then see the list of calls on their iPod Touch-based EasyPay devices. I’m not sure if Specialists have to check manually or if they are notified with push messages. This will definitely improve retail experience of a lot of people.
There are a few other things to note:
All the iPads are black;
iPads reset back to the first screen after a few minutes of inactivity;
It doesn’t look like anything is connected to the Dock connector on the right, so the cable might run through the back panel;